Most U.S. airlines began charging for checked baggage back in 2008 when oil prices were nearly $130 a barrel. Today, the price of a barrel of crude oil has dropped to less than $40 but unfortunately, checked baggage fees still persist for domestic flights on most carriers.
The good news is many travel rewards credit cards offer a free checked bag benefit for cardholders (and sometimes even for traveling companions). Here are some of our favorite airline branded rewards cards you might want to consider to avoid these bothersome (and expensive) fees. As a reminder, you can find more in-depth information on these and many other rewards credit cards in our Profiles section.
Alaska Airlines charges a fee of $25 per bag for the first and second checked bag on all of its flights. However, if you are an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardmember, the fee is waived for the first checked bag.
Here are the highlights of the Visa Signature card:
- NEW – First Checked Bag free for you and up to six companions booked on the same reservation
- Get 25,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Bonus Miles upon approval (no spending requirement)
- Receive a Coach Companion Fare from $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22)
- Earn up to 5X miles per dollar spent using Mileage Dining Plan
- Earn 3X miles per dollar spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, vacation packages and cargo purchases
- Earn 1X mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
- No mileage cap. You may earn unlimited miles as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
The Alaska Airlines Visa is issued in three different versions: Visa Signature ($75 annual fee), Platinum Plus ($50 annual fee) and Classic Visa ($35 annual fee). Your creditworthiness at the time of approval determines which card you will receive. Each card comes with different terms and benefits. This card is issued by Bank of America.
This card is a great choice for frequent travelers who routinely fly with American Airlines. New members can earn 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after spending a minimum of $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three month of account opening. AAadvantage miles can be used for award travel to nearly 1,000 destinations worldwide on American Airlines and its oneworld partners.
The American Airlines Executive MasterCard delivers premium benefits to cardmembers such as:
- NEW – Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit
- Admiral’s Club Membership
- Elite Qualifying Miles
- No foreign transaction fees
- First Checked Bag Free on domestic itineraries for you and up to 8 traveling companions booked on the same reservation
- Earn 2X miles on American Airlines purchases
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases
- No mileage cap
The annual fee for this card is $450 which is not waived. The American Airlines Executive MasterCard is issued by Citigroup.
Delta Airlines routinely charges $25 (one-way) for each checked bag on flights within the U.S., Canada, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. But if you are a Delta Gold American Express cardmember, the first checked bag is free for you and up to nine others traveling with you on the same itinerary. Flights must be operated by Delta or its regional partners and your Delta SkyMiles frequent-flyer number must appear on your reservation.
New account holders have the opportunity to earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make at least $1,000 in eligible purchases on your card within the first three months that your account is open. Additionally, when you make a Delta purchase on the card within the first three months you will receive a $50 statement credit.
Other benefits include:
- A free checked bag on Delta flights (a savings of up to $50 on a round-trip flight)
- Priority Boarding
- Discounted Delta Sky Club Access for you and two traveling companions
- Earn 2X miles per dollar spent on eligible Delta purchases
- Earn 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases
- No limit on the number of miles you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
The annual membership fee for the Delta Gold American Express is $95 which is waived for the first year.